New Jersey Gambling Prevalence Study Finds Participation Rates Have Soared

Posted on: September 29, 2023, 12:25h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2023, 12:54h.

A gambling prevalence study commissioned by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) and conducted by Rutgers University finds that the industry continues to attract new players.

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A billboard for the Borgata is seen on the Atlantic City Expressway. A New Jersey study on gambling prevalence shows participation rates in the state are increasing. (Image: Garden State Outdoor)

Rutgers’ School of Social Work, Center for Gambling Studies, this week released its findings in a report titled, “The Prevalence of Online and Land-Based Gambling in New Jersey.” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, whose office oversees the DGE, says the study is part of the state’s ongoing commitment “to help those suffering from problem gaming and gambling addiction issues.”

New Jersey has led the nation in evaluating every bet placed online and addressing the impact of wagering on its residents,” said Dr. Lia Nower, who led the study. “This report provides evidence to guide prevention and education efforts for those at highest risk for gambling problems: younger adults, members of ethnic and racial minority groups, and those who gamble on multiple activities and bet both online and in land-based venues.”

Rutgers researchers surveyed more than 3,500 state residents over the age of 18 between December 2020 through April 2021 to gauge their patterns of play. Respondents were asked about their participation in all of the state’s legal forms of gambling, including lottery, casinos, online gaming, sports betting, fantasy sports, esports, and pari-mutuel wagering.

Participation Growing

Among the key findings in the 59-page gambling prevalence report is that participation rates continue to increase.

Sports betting participation climbed from 15% when the last study was conducted in 2017 to more than 19%. Sports betting wasn’t legal when the Rutgers team last polled state residents about gambling on sports, meaning the liberalization of sportsbooks resulted in just a 4% uptick in participation.

The proportion of online-only gamblers, however, nearly tripled during the same timeframe from 5% to nearly 15%. Gamblers who patronize both brick-and-mortar gambling venues and online platforms almost doubled from 19% to 36%.

With considerably more legal gaming options now compared with 2017, the study found that players who only explicitly gamble at the nine casinos in Atlantic City dropped from 76% to 49%.

In total, the gambling prevalence study determined that more than six in 10 New Jersey residents have participated in some form of gambling over the past 12 months.

Problem Gambling Wins, Losses

Though gambling rates are increasing, the Rutgers researchers found that “high-risk gambling” decreased from 6.3% in the 2017 report to 5.6%. Low and moderate-risk problem gambling also declined by about two percentage points to 13%.

“High-risk, “low,” and “moderate-risk” problem gamblers are defined based on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). The self-assessment tool is a nine-question survey that questions players about their behaviors.

Though moderate and severe problem gambling rates declined, the researchers said New Jersey’s problem gambling rate remains three times the national average. The survey found that an estimated 6% of the New Jersey adult population is suffering from a gambling disorder.

“As New Jersey’s gaming industry continues to grow, we have an obligation to help those suffering from problem gaming and gambling addiction issues,” Platkin concluded. “Through the release of this report, we are taking a comprehensive look at the pervasiveness of gambling across the state, and with it, able to better identify challenges for our most vulnerable populations and design programs and initiatives to assist them.”